Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/4/98

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/22-9/4, 1998

 

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas appear to be in their normal home ranges.

The Rose Creek pack of 17 was seen standing around a grizzly bear laying on an elk carcass which it probably took from the wolves. Brave bear. Chief Joseph was in the SW corner of th Pack. Druid was in Pelican Valley testing bison.

The one radioed Washakie wolf still can't be found and the other is still in the SE corner of Yellowstone National Park. An unradioed black and a gray wolf were seen in the Dunoir Valley in late September. A Service field crew found tracks of 2-3 wolves in the area but no radios could be heard. If possible trapping will be attempted to radio a group member. The wolves could be one or both of the uncollared Washakie yearlings and/or one or two of the 9 or so missing uncollared Yellowstone wolves, or uncollared members of the Soda Butte and Thorofare packs. As time passes more and more wolves will disperse and many of those will be uncollared. Public reports of wolves will become important, just as they are in NW Montana.

In Idaho, the ten wolf packs that produced pups are staying in their normal territories.

Trapping by Service field crews in NW Montana placed a radio on an adult male wolf and an adult female wolf in the newly located pack between the Pleasant Valley and Murphy Lake packs. The newly confirmed pack consists of several adults and this year's pups. It has been named the Little Wolf Creek pack.

Observations by agency biologists and the public indicate there may be several wolves in the Idaho Panhandle, north of the experimental area. Up to 3 black wolves have been repeatedly seen. The Service's MT field crew will investigate as soon as they are able.

 

Control

Service, Wildlife Services and Blackfeet tribal biologists were unable to locate any wolves in the area of suspected depredations on Blackfeet Tribal lands. To date no other problems have been reported.

Wolves from the Moyer pack killed several calves in the area west of Salmon.

Five ewes were killed by a pair of wolves (the adult male is uncollared) with 9 pups south of Stanley Idaho. Control was attempted but the wolves were constantly moving making capture difficult. At this point in time, other control efforts such as livestock guard animals or aversive conditioning are being evaluated as possible solutions.

On 8/19 a black wolf reportedly had a calf cornered before a rancher drove her off near Red Rocks Lake Refuge. A flight was done next morning and female black wolf number #67 from the Nez Perce area was found north of Red Rocks Lake Refuge in Montana. She was chasing a calf when located on 8/22. She was then killed because of several previous depredations and so she would not lead other pack members to this area. Apparently her 1998 pups are being cared for by other Nez Perce pack members. They have moved even farther into the interior of the Park. No livestock depredations were located so she apparently had not killed anymore livestock. Wildlife Service (Graham McDougal in particular)deserves credit for immediately reporting the sightings and quickly responding to the Service's request to resolve the issue as had been promised to local residents.

 

Research

Nothing new to report.

 

I&E

Please help with wolf monitoring efforts by reporting suspected wolf observations. Reclassification, and the resulting increased management flexibility that would result from a threatened status depends upon the number of documented breeding pairs. PLEASE REPORT WOLF SIGHTINGS ASAP. THANKS!!

Nez Perce Project biologists made presentations at the Challis Stewardship meeting in Challis, and the Sawtooth Wildlife Council at the Red Fish Lodge in Stanley.

Bangs gave a presentation to about 50 biologists with the Wildlife Division of Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks in Kalispell on the 11th. On the 3rd, Bangs participated in a workshop on Governance and Natural Resources: New Models for the 21st Century. The Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative conducted the workshop which looked at several case studies, including wolf management.

 

The Service's two wolf biologists positions in Lander, WY have closed. Because of the volume of applications, selections will likely not be made until November 1998. The two Helena, Montana positions, GS-9 biologist and GS-7 technician should be advertised by the week of September 8th. Separate applications must be submitted for jobs in MT. Information will be mailed to those who inquired about the WY jobs.

Bangs, Fontaine (USFWS), and (USDA, WS) Niemeyer, R. Phillips, and M. Nelson and countless attorneys were in Casper, WY for the Diamond G Ranch court hearing on August 25. The case still wasn't completed and final oral agruments will be heard September 9th. A decision is expected shortly thereafter.

Bangs and Niemeyer travelled to Dubois on the 26th to look over the area so a field crew could be most effective. They drove down Long Creek Road but it had just rained and the closed Forest Service Road was too muddy to use. A field crew was send to the area on Sept 1. They found sign of 2-3 wolves (no radioed wolves are in the area) and if a promising area can be located trapping and radio-collaring will be attempted.

Bangs gave a presentations at the Seattle Zoo/REI on Sept. 21st and the National Assoc. of Zoo Docents on the 22nd. About 350 people attended. Niemeyer and Bangs gave presentations in Yellowstone on the 28th to a Defnders of Wildlife Group.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at http://www.r6.fws.gov/wolf in addition to the regular distribution.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Internet-ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV